November 1, 2010

Making Frightening Memories Vanish
In a Johns Hopkins University experiment, researchers showed that when mice were first learning to be afraid of something receptors in their brain became more active and remained elevated for about a week. But during that time, fearful memories could be erased by training the mice not to be afraid of whatever it was that scared them. (Chicago Tribune)

The Majority of European Christians Accept Evolution
European Christians are outliers among their coreligionists, finds a survey of creationist beliefs, with a 70 percent acceptance of the evidence for evolution. In the Evolution & Development journal survey by David Wilson of Australia’s University of Newcastle, roughly 4,300 respondents worldwide detailed their religious beliefs and scientific views. (Dan Vergano, USA Today)

The Best Way to Make a Complicated Decision?
Distracting yourself for a few minutes with something else or, even better putting off the issue until the next day, helps the brain come up with the ideal solution, the study found. According to experiments, people who consciously struggle with a difficult question are more likely to get the wrong answer, compared to those who put it on the mental backburner. (Telegraph)

Thousands of Genomes
We asked more than 90 genomics centers and labs to estimate the number of human genome sequences they have in the works. Although far from comprehensive, the tally indicates that at least 2,700 human genomes will have been completed by the end of this month, and that the total will rise to more than 30,000 by the end of 2011. (Nature News)

Save the Humanities
Cornell University’s president, David Skorton, said that the lack of civility in society points to the need for the humanities. “Watching the midterm elections, they seem nasty to me, not civil. The tragedy at Rutgersā€”isn’t that a lack of civility and a lack of values?” Skorton said. If people want to restore civility to public life, then “the values of the humanities need to be emphasized.” (Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed)

Dutch Novelist Harry Mulisch Dies
Harry Mulisch, the Dutch novelist whose gift for writing with clarity about moral and philosophical themes made him an enormously influential figure in the Netherlands and earned him recognition abroad, died at his home in Amsterdam on Saturday. He was 83. (Marlise Simons, The New York Times)

Shock of Gray

We recently spoke with journalist Ted Fishman over the phone from his home in Chicago about how America treats its seniors, the “Silicon Valley of aging” and whether immortality is really possible. (Michael Humphrey,

Category: Field Notes


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